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Iran Press TV

US policy Kafkaesque, Orwellian: Former intelligence official

Iran Press TV

Sun Mar 17, 2013 7:26AM GMT

A former American intelligence official has warned against the political maneuvering of successive US administrations for manipulating classified information to tighten their grip on the executive power.

William Leonard, the former head of the Information Security Oversight Office from 2002 to 2007, told a high-level discussion group on secrecy and security convened by the Brennan Center for Justice in Washington on Saturday, "Governments have decided under the cloak of secrecy to unleash the brutality of violence in our name and that of our fellow citizens."

"So extra judicial kidnapping becomes 'rendition', torture becomes 'enhanced interrogation', detainees are held on information that barely qualifies as hearsay, and assassination becomes 'targeted killing'," Leonard stated.

Leonard noted that even the language has been subjected to the White House abuse of power. "It is as if Lewis Carroll, George Orwell and Franz Kafka were jointly conspiring to form official US policy."

The former US intelligence official warned that over the past decade the administrations of both President Barack Obama and George W. Bush had manipulated their classification authority in an attempt to create new executive powers without Congressional supervision or judicial review.

Observers contend that despite Obama's executive orders purportedly aimed at enhancing transparency for the public, including the reducing Over-Classification Act in 2010, his administration is considered one of the toughest in terms of policing state secrets.

Under Obama's tenure, there have been six prosecutions under the 1917 Espionage Act, more than under all previous presidents combined.

A recent study by the Center for Effective Government found that the White House had withheld decisions and documents that have the force of law, classified items that do not need to be confidential and aggressively prosecuted whistleblowers.

During his administration, Obama has dismissed cases against the US government by claiming entire topics as privileged.

On February 27, a number of US lawmakers expressed concern about Obama administration's use of assassination drones to kill American citizens overseas and the secrecy in legal justifications for the targeted killings, as the administration refuses to publicly discuss any details of the covert program and the death toll from drone strikes remains a mystery.

Former President Bush was also criticized for authorizing a secret domestic spy program and military tribunals without court involvement after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.


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